NWHU catchment area surpassed 100 active COVID-19 cases, Medical Officer of Health stresses importance of entire catchment area following public health measures
Tim Brody - Editor
A joint news release was issued on Feb. 19 on behalf of: City of Kenora, Kenora Chiefs Advisory, Kenora District Services Board, Lake of the Woods District Hospital, Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU), Ontario Provincial Police, Treaty 3 Police, Waasegiizhig Nanaandawe’iyewigamig (WNHAC), following a large number of new COVID-19 cases in the Kenora region as reported by NWHU, 101 active cases as of February 19.
The joint release states, “We understand that seeing a large number of new COVID-19 cases in the Kenora area is unsettling and may cause concern for some people. Be assured that health care providers and other sectors are working together to ensure public safety. An outbreak situation like what is currently being seen is serious, but we must remain calm and logical. At this time, there is no evidence of spread within the municipality of Kenora.”
Speaking with members of the media last Friday, Northwestern Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kit Young Hoon shared, “At this point, the case increase is very much focused in one main community. However there is always the potential for spread to the broader area. In general I think it’s really just important for the Kenora area, but also for the entire catchment area, to follow public health measures.”
When announcing new positive COVID-19 test results, NWHU shares that, “For reasons of privacy, NWHU minimizes sharing the information about the location of COVID-19 test results.”
Dr. Young Hoon has not stated in which community NWHU defines as the Kenora region the large case increase is focused in.
The joint news release informed, “When new cases are identified, they are told to isolate and all of their high risk close contacts are asked to get tested and also told to self-isolate. As expected, some of the close contacts who get tested may also then get positive test results. The process then continues with them, to ensure their close contacts isolate and get tested. If prevention measures are followed, after a few weeks, the transmission should slow as all contacts isolate and the spread to more people is stopped. Since the outbreak began, the majority of new cases have been close contacts of previous cases. Those who have been told to self-isolate have been given clear instructions and are being monitored to support any health needs they may have, and ensure compliance. The recent Class Section 22 Order put in place by Northwestern Health Unit allows for enforcement of anyone who does not self-isolate.”
“Prevention measures are proven to work and this is a good example of why we ask that people stay two metres from anyone they do not live with. Continue to wear a mask, wash your hands often, and do not gather indoors with anyone other than members of your household. By doing this, you significantly lower your chance of getting COVID-19,” the joint news release states.
The joint release concluded, “Lastly, we encourage kindness at this time and remind the public that this situation is not unique to our area and can happen anywhere. Communities across Ontario have seen outbreaks in various population groups. No one should be blamed or mistreated for having COVID-19. As residents of northwestern Ontario, we must come together to be supportive and caring, especially to those who need it the most.”
NWHU reported 97 active cases in its catchment area on Feb. 22, 89 in the Kenora region, three in the Dryden / Red Lake region, four in the Sioux Lookout region and one in the Rainy River District.
Last week the provincial government announced it has administered over 500,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to Phase One priority populations, which now includes adults 80 years of age and older.
“At the same time, the province is working with public health units to build and expand its capacity to immunize Phase Two populations by increasing delivery networks and preparing a booking solution and customer service supports for mass vaccination clinic registrations,” the provincial government shared in a news release.
“I want to assure the people of this great province that we are ready to get vaccines into as many arms as possible, we simply need the supply,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Our Vaccine Task Force, led by General (Rick) Hillier, is executing our vaccine distribution plan with military precision and we have now administered over a half a million doses. This is great progress, but we would all like to be moving faster. I urge our federal government partners to do whatever it takes to get us more vaccines so we can better protect people and eventually defeat this deadly virus.”
The provincial government shared that Operation Remote Immunity, led by Ornge, is vaccinating adults in the 31 fly-in First Nations communities and Moosonee in Northern Ontario.
“As of February 17, 2021, over 8,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Sioux Lookout and communities within the Operation’s scope. Ornge teams will continue to administer first and second doses of the vaccine with an aim of completion by the end of April 2021. Planning for vaccine distribution to additional First Nations communities and to urban Indigenous populations is underway through ongoing and regular engagement of the First Nations and Urban Indigenous Vaccine Distribution Sub-Tables, respectively.”